ECF awards new capacity-building grants

Participants in the Girls Play Sports program.

The Evanston Community Foundation has awarded $10,000 root2fruit capacity-building grants to three local non-profits.

The recipients are the Chessmen Club of the NorthShore, Girls Play Sports and the National Alliance on Mental Illness, Cook County North Suburban.

Each group will receive a $10,000 grant this year and will be considered for similar grants in 2017 and 2018.

Six organizations are continuing in the root2fruit program: second year grantees Books & Breakfast, Meals at Home, and Muse of Fire Theatre and third-year grantees Farmworker and Landscaper Advocacy Project, Literature for All of Us and Piven Theatre Workshop.

Four alumni organizations of the root2fruit capacity building program received one year grants, and Reba Early Learning Center was awarded a $1,000 one-year challenge grant for board development.

ECF officials say the new grants continue the foundation's commitment to supporting the breadth and depth of Evanston's nonprofit community.

The Chessmen Club's mission is to provide support to African-American youth and seniors living in the North Shore community, with a particular emphasis on encouraging the growth and development of young black men. Founded in 1958, the Chessmen Club is focused on a strategic plan for the future.

A young organization, Girls Play Sports, is dedicated to fostering leadership skills and confidence in girls through their participation in a wide variety of sports.

NAMI CCNS works to improve the lives of individuals with serious mental illness and those who love and care for them through education, support and advocacy.

 For a fifth year, ECF is awarding one-year grants to root2fruit program alumni. Four organizations will receive grants to support specific capacity building projects, including Center for Independent Futures ($4,000), Evanston Scholars ($5,000), Mudlark Theatre ($5,000) and PEER Services ($5,000).

This is the 14th year of a partnership between the Mammel Foundation and the Evanston Community Foundation. Since its inception in 2002, the root2fruit program has benefited 48 organizations with a total investment of nearly $1.3 million.

Designed to increase the capacity of small to mid-size nonprofits in Evanston, root2fruit offers more than the grant money. Grantees become part of a peer learning network, and are mentored by an advisory committee for a period of three years.  Over the years, root2fruit grantee organizations have seen significant improvement in their budgets, fundraising and development capacity, board recruitment, and the ability to expand their services.

More information about the program is available online.

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